27.10.17

Cycling in England - Lands End to John O 'Groats: Fort William to Bonar Bridge


Day 10: Fort William to Bonar Bridge. One of the first things I learned about riding in Northern France was that some places were extremely difficult to find. Trying to locate our accommodation in cities like Charleville-Mézières and Rouen, were harder than I ever imagined, particularly without a GPS. Problems, such as busy main roads, impatient drivers, lack of signage and our budget hotel being on the wrong side of town, added to my chagrin.

Cycling from Lands End to John O’Groats gave me the occasional flutter, particularly down south and along the industrialised north near Warrington, but it was minor by comparison. Scottish roads were even easier to cycle along; much easier. From the tiny village of Balloch, it had been a simple case of following the same road, the A82, until I reached Fort William.
The Commando memorial

Finding my way to Bonar Bridge was just as simple. The 80 kilometres from Fort William to Drumnadrochit involved following some of Scotland’s famous lochs, the largest of all, Loch Ness, which holds the greatest volume of water in the British Isles.

The long journey throughout the day had its moments, like the twisting steep climb-reaching 20%-from Drumnadrochit and from Dingwall, further north. One hundred and eighty seven kilometres is a long way on a bike, but when you’ve got nothing to worry about other than the distance itself, it’s amazing how quickly the seemingly never-ending vastness steadily disappears. That is, until something changes; sometimes a mechanical problem, the road itself, or just the weather.

Short break in one of the many places along the way
Once off the A82 and onto a secondary road, the A833 towards Beauly, the landscape quickly transformed into an upland wilderness. The threat of rain, never far away, had descended into a cold mist, making the road ahead, at least for the time being, difficult to see. After reaching Dingwall and the steep climb that followed, the conditions temporarily improved, as did the road. I was soon heading along the A9 which bestrides another loch, Cromarty Firth, which flows north-east towards Moray Firth and the open sea.
Dunroamin Hotel, Bonar Bridge
With just 40 kilometres left to travel, I soon reached another secondary road, the B9176, which with its gentle undulations, carried me towards the A836 and the bridge over a river estuary, the Kyle of Sutherland. Following an immediate left-hand turn and another 200 metres of riding along Bonar Bridge’s one and only main road, I was at last, standing outside our accommodation  at  the Dunroamin Hotel.  As pleasurable as cycling usually is, it's always good to reach 'home' at the end of a long day's journey..
 
Roz at Bonar Bridge











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All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware.

                                                        Martin Buber



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